The first babies of the New Year in Cook and Lake counties didn't waste time making their arrivals, and it was down to the wire in both cases.
Elizabeth Ariel Hofmann checked into the world at 1:18 a.m. Wednesday at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village as the first baby born in 2014 in the Northwest suburban Cook County.
Marisol Verdin said she had been having contractions for about a week, but knew early Tuesday it was time.
"I woke up at six in the morning, getting ready for work and she said, 'I think we need to go to the hospital,'" said her partner, James Hofmann.
It is the first child together for the Glendale Heights couple, though Verdin has a 5-year-old son at home and Hofmann has an adult daughter who lives elsewhere.
"We had the bags packed and baby seat in the car," Hofmann said.
But it became a waiting game. Just after midnight, doctors were prepared to induce labor but nature began to take its course, and Elizabeth arrived on her scheduled due date of Jan. 1
"She definitely hit the target," Verdin said. But there was some drama, too.
"We were actually competing with the couple next door," she added. "They were two or three minutes behind us. It was a very fun, exciting experience."
Elizabeth, who weighs 8 pounds, 1 ounce, is named for Verdin's sister.
"I consider her my best friend. We're very close. I always liked the name," she said.
Verdin said she had been apprehensive because of difficulty with her first pregnancy, but was calmed and supported by hospital staff.
"Everything has turned out amazing. Everybody is doing well. We're all happy and grateful."
Erin and Jason Curtin of Crystal Lake welcomed a little girl, Maci Joyce, at 12:31 a.m. at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington to record the first birth in Lake County in 2014.
The Curtins couldn't have realized it but their first child arrived just two minutes ahead of a little boy born at 12:33 a.m. at Northshore University HealthSystem Highland Park Hospital.
Erin Curtin, a preschool teacher, was two days overdue. During an appointment in Crystal Lake, her doctor told her to check in and she was admitted about 1 p.m. Tuesday. "It was a slow start but all of a sudden, she must have wanted to come out and kicked into high gear."
"It surprised us," said Curtin, who grew up in Palatine. Jason Curtin is a firefighter with the Wheeling fire department.
"We're just very happy. She's doing great," Erin Curtin said of her 6-pound, 4-ounce daughter.
On the other side of Lake County, Lazaro Matias narrowly became the second baby of the year, although he arrived well ahead of schedule. It is the first child for Laura and Kane Abundes of Waukegan.
A middle-school history teacher, Laura Abundes said she was shopping Tuesday but didn't feel well and went to her parents' house nearby. The contractions were two minutes apart when they arrived at the hospital about 3:30 p.m. The baby wasn't due for nearly three weeks.
Laura Abundes, who was born at the same hospital, was in for another surprise.
"The nurse that helped deliver me, helped deliver him," she said.
"The name means 'the saved one' and the first two letters of Lazaro and Laura are the same so that's an important connection," she added.
She was unaware how close she came to having the first baby in Lake County but will pass along the experience.
"For the next couple of years, we'll have some amazing New Year's stories to tell him," she said.